Full Stack Developers Doesn't exist

I started out as a full stack developer and it was fun, until I had to look up everything in Stack Overflow or scour the docs every time I wanted to code in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP, SQL and databases.

I was very adamant in doing a great job but it was exhausting. Programming evolves every day, so if I was working on a front-end project for a month, and then a back-end one, I’d have to spend hours catching up on the newer techs in PHP.

So I focused on front-end web development and then solely on AMP / accessibility. Best decision in my career!

What is a full stack web developer?

Websites are divided between front-end and back-end. The front-end is what you see and interact with - the images, colors, buttons, links. The back-end is the code executed by the server, so users don’t see it. It’s the code that submits a contact form, that processes payment on an e-store, and logs you in and out.

So a full stack developer is someone who can work with both of these technologies and do a great job at all of them. They know:

  • Graphic design (a little bit)
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JS
  • Database Design
  • MySQL
  • PHP / Ruby / Node.js (any server side language)

You might be thinking “Stefany, that’s not a lot of stuff to learn. You are just lazy. Lawyers and doctors have to learn so much more and you complain about a bunch of languages”

True, but don’t doctors and lawyers specialize as they finish training? Don’t they all focus on ONE thing and forward you to a specialist when your illness / case is outside of their training?

Full stack web developers are magic genies created by cheap companies who dump various tasks on one person to save money. Unfortunately, we programmers are very arrogant and the notion of “knowing everything” is very enticing for us, so we jumped the ship and man, did we screw ourselves up.

Have you seen the portfolios of people who specialize in one technology ? Be it illustration or CSS. They are amazing! By focusing on one thing, you become great at it and you can easily establish yourself as an expert in your field which will help you beat your competition.

And in our field, we have TONS of competition. Everyone who can install a WordPress theme brands themselves as “web developer” and non technical clients doesn’t know the difference. That’s why we gotta specialize in one thing.

Websites aren’t easy. To have a really great website, you need a lot of people:

  1. Content strategist
  2. SEO optimizers
  3. Graphic designers
  4. Typography experts
  5. Accessibility consultant
  6. AMP Developer (if your are coding your site in AMP)
  7. Back-end developer
  8. Database designer
  9. UX expert
  10. Salesperson (NEVER allow devs to talk to clients!!!)

That’s at least 10 people, not counting contractors, such as photographers. Do you think it is possible for one person to be an expert in what these 10 people dedicate their lives to?